Spring always makes me anxious for that magical transition eulogized in William Carlos Williamsâ€™ The Botticellian Trees:
The alphabet of
is fading in the
song of the leaves
Unfortunately, right now e.e. cummingsâ€™ in Just – may be a more accurate depiction of this midwestern spring:
in Just –
spring Â when the world is mud-
And so, over the course of the soggy last two weeks, Iâ€™ve been burying myself in books and hoping that at some point Iâ€™ll look up and itâ€™ll be sunny May already… or June. Here are a few of the books that have been going on dreary bus rides with me.
The Virginia Woolf Poems
by Jackson Mac Low
Â Â Â When one of my favorite writers uses another of my favorite writerâ€™s work as source material, good things are bound to happen. Jackson Mac Low, a student of John Cage, was a writer and performance artist who developed systematic writing processes to compose his poetry and performance scores. One system he developed and used often was the diastic or â€œspelling throughâ€ method which he applied here to Woolfâ€™s novels The Waves and Night and Day. This book was published by Burning Deck in 1986 and has a killer cover designed by Keith Waldrop (Sorry for the poor image quality – I already returned my copy to the library and this sad image is all the internet had to offer me).
The Blond Notebook
Â Â Â The book has been floating around my apartment since I got it last weekend. Its always a good sign when books donâ€™t go straight onto the shelf; it means I want to live with it a bit while reading it – and maybe before and after, too. The Blond Notebook is Michael Slosekâ€™s most recent book of poetry and the latest release from the Chicago based small press arrow as aarow, makers of beautiful, hand bound chapbooks with hand printed covers.
Â Â Â Invisible Cities is a collection of short vignettes in which Marco Polo offers descriptions of far away cities to Kublai Khan and it is pure magic. Â This was my third or fourth time reading it and it continues to seduce me and inform a lot of my own work.
Â Â Â Another recent Chicago small press release – this time from Kenning Editions. Iâ€™m about two thirds of the way through at this point, but I will say that reading it while I was working the circulation desk at the library where I work gave me in an unnervingly participatory perspective. I kept shifting between Durginâ€™s hallucinatory cultural investigation/poet’s script and surveilling a room full of readers from behind a sound proof glass wall and an array of security camera feeds.
Bailey Romaine is a print maker and bibliophile currently living in Chicago.